Prince Poppycock is hoping to be crowned king of "America's Got Talent."
The outlandish operatic creation of 32-year-old singing store clerk John Quale of Los Angeles is among the final four acts performing their ultimate routines Tuesday on the NBC variety competition. Poppycock, who judge Sharon Osbourne dubbed the "male Lady Gaga," has captured imaginations with his spectacular showmanship and bellowing singing voice.
"I'm shocked," Quale said last week after securing his place in the finale. "This is a nightclub act that I've been doing in Los Angeles for four years. I always received a very good response, but that was from twenty- and thirtysomething clubgoers. To have everyone, from grandmothers to kindergartners, respond so positively has honestly been very surprising."
During his original audition in New York, Poppycock's powdered face was met with a record-scratch sound effect and several what-is-this-guy-thinking glances. He eventually endeared the judges and audience with his over-the-top rendition of "Largo al factotum" from Rossini's "Il Barbiere di Siviglia," which featured Poppycock prancing around with two hand mirrors.
As he advanced in the competition, Quale added props, back-up dancers and other spectacles to his act. During the semifinals, he belted out Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" while smashing blue-and-white china, and he earned his finale spot by chirping "Yankee Doodle Dandy" with leggy dancers wearing giant U.S. flags and a replica of the Capitol.
"He's got to continue on the path that he's on," advised Osbourne.
Poppycock is competing against 10-year-old soprano Jackie Evancho from Pittsburgh, 30-year-old crooner Michael Grimm from Waveland, Miss., and 13-man performance troupe Fighting Gravity, a group of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity brothers from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., who use black lights and props in numbers reminiscent of the Blue Man Group.
"You've got four acts that could all win," said judge Piers Morgan. "That's what's so exciting. Jackie's probably the favorite to win, but I don't think you can rule out any of the other three acts. One great performance from them, and one not-so-great performance from Jackie, and any of them could win. It's carpe diem, as they say. They have to seize the day."
The winner of "America's Got Talent" will be revealed Wednesday and earn a headlining show at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and a $1 million prize. If the Prince doesn't become reality TV royalty, Quale said he still has grand plans for Poppycock: He wants to unleash a saga similar to John Cameron Mitchell's 2001 rock opera "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."
"Ultimately, I do want to write an opera based around the Prince Poppycock character and his trials and tribulations," said Quale, who also composes and performs electronic music. "I would love to stage it as a full-on Ziegfeld Follies, Broadway extravaganza ... and then one day turn it into a movie."
NBC is owned by NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric Co.
© 2010 The Associated Press.